As the saying goes, the best offense is a good defense. In terms of your health, this means prevention prior to treatment. With the cold and flu season upon us, you want to arm yourself with the right arsenal of weapons to ward off the ills and blahs.
To get your immune system warriors on their guard, incorporating some of the following foods may help to fight off what could mean a week or two of feeling sluggish, stuffed up wheezy:
1. Whey Protein – the benefits of whey go far beyond simply helping you to build and maintain muscle mass (along side training of course!). Quality whey protein may help to reduce inflammation by means of reducing cytokine secretion (1) which is a major factor in health. Whey is rich in substances called immunoglobins like bifidobacterium and lactoferrin, and is an excellent source of the amino acid cysteine which is a precursor to the powerful antioxidant glutathione (3).
2. Stank foods aka Garlic and Onions – These two foods (or spices if you may) may act as natural antibiotics due to their compounds called allium cepa L, antioxidant (flavonoid) called quercetin, and allium sativa (4,5). Basically, the horrible stink that these foods give your breath is actually really good for your gut health and immune system. Bite in and ward off vampires AND cold and flu 🙂
3. Hard boiled eggs – I don’t know why foods that stink have to be so good for us but they just are! Whole eggs are rich in fatty acids, choline, B vitamins and sulfur (hydrogen sulfide). Sulfur (which is one of the reasons hard boiled eggs stink) is something often overlooked as being of importance in our diets. This nutrient can actually help to boost our bodies ability to fight off inflammation as well as to help produce the health promoting vitamin/hormone D and the ridiculously powerful immune promoting n-acetyl-cysteine (6,7) .
4. Sprouts – Whether it be alfalfa, clover or soybean, this family of food or herb, is a great addition to soups, salads and sandwiches for their immune promoting, cell protecting polyphenols, antioxidants and flavones. We often get sick in the first place because of too much mental, physical and oxidative stress and this group of foods may help to battle that damage off (8).
This can be a tough time of the year for many in terms of colds and flu. If you start incorporating these foods into your diet now before getting fully into the sickness season, you just might be able to fully enjoy the holidays this season with your loved ones instead of with a box of tissues and prescriptions. Seriously though, punch sickness in the face!
1. Cross, M. L., & Gill, H. S. (1999). Modulation of immune function by a modified bovine whey protein concentrate. Immunology and cell biology, 77(4), 345-350.
2. Kau, A. L., Ahern, P. P., Griffin, N. W., Goodman, A. L., & Gordon, J. I. (2011). Human nutrition, the gut microbiome and the immune system. Nature,474(7351), 327-336.
3. Keri Marshall, N. D. (2004). Therapeutic applications of whey protein.Alternative Medicine Review, 9(2), 136-156.
4. (ok so we are not chickens but I digress) Goodarzi, M., Landy, N., & Nanekarani, S. (2013). Effect of onion (Allium cepa L.) as an antibiotic growth promoter substitution on performance, immune responses and serum biochemical parameters in broiler chicks. Health, 5, 1210.
5. Dash, P., Yadav, S., & Sahoo, P. K. (2014). Immunoadjuvant effect of garlic (Allium sativum)–mineral oil suspension on immunity and resistance to Aeromonas hydrophila infection in rohu, Labeo rohita. International Aquatic Research, 6(3), 167-173.
6. Santus, P., Corsico, A., Solidoro, P., Braido, F., Marco, F. D., & Scichilone, N. (2014). Oxidative Stress and Respiratory System: Pharmacological and Clinical Reappraisal of N-Acetylcysteine. COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
8. Sharma, G., Prakash, D., Gupta, C., Prakash, D., & Sharma, G. (2014). Phytochemicals of nutraceutical importance: do they defend against diseases?. Phytochemicals of Nutraceutical Importance, 1.